Despite comic book films occupying half of the top ten spots for the highest grossing films of 2016, don’t look for Blade Runner and Aliens director Ridley Scott to jump on the bandwagon anytime soon – or ever. When asked by Digital Spy about the prospect of jumping into the highly lucrative, effects-heavy segment of the film industry, Scott had no kind words.
Scott said that he’s been asked several times to make one, but that he couldn’t “believe in the thin, gossamer tight-rope of the non-reality of the situation of the superhero.”
Weirdly, Scott then goes on to compare what is perhaps his best-known film, Blade Runner, to those very movies.
“Blade Runner is really a comic strip when you think about it,” Scott said. “It’s a dark story told in an unreal world. You could almost put Batman or Superman in that world, that atmosphere, except I’d have a f***ing good story, as opposed to no story.”
Scott added that he thinks “cinema mainly is pretty bad,” before adding that he wants to keep doing cinema and hopes that it “doesn’t affect those of us who still keep making smart films.”
Well, that’s kind of harsh
It sounds as if Scott has judged the genre and the movies within it before he’d even watched any of the movies he’s so critical of. While I’d be the last person to try to pretend that most of the moments in superhero movies are high cinema, that part’s no different from any other genre. Going by Sturgeon’s Law, 90 percent of everything is junk. Superhero movies aren’t immune.
But we still see superhero movies finding superlative moments, interesting stories and characters, and exploring the medium in their own ways.
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight gave us a morally gray Joker and asked serious questions about unrestrained surveillance that we wouldn’t start grappling with on a national scale for another couple years. The whole Dark Knight trilogy asked us to wonder whether or not Batman’s actions were right even as the movies generally framed him as the hero.
Captain America Civil War put the often-ignored consequences of superheroes’ actions in front of them and made them contemplate those actions. While very few of us are going to be dropping meteor-sized masses of land onto the earth, questions about power and consequence are still relevant to us and can form the base for a gripping story.
Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy both deviate from the standard formula and show superhero movies can stand on their own as comedies and not just simple action flicks.
The very non-reality Scott railed against in the interview is a way for us to pull away from the complications of the real world and look at ideas like these more closely, without the distractions of real people and real physics.
Meanwhile, the Quicksilver scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past and the imaginative effects show directors trying to bring the previously unimaginable to life, to make still pictures move in new and interesting ways.
Scott’s very first comment, before going into all of the other judgments he made, was to say that superhero movies are “not [his] kind of thing.” He should’ve stopped there. He could’ve even continued on to say that his current projects inspire him in ways that the superhero movies he’s been asked to work on haven’t.
It’s okay if Scott doesn’t like superhero movies. But why not just admit it? Why turn it into a value judgment of the whole genre? I’d love to see a superhero film from an inspired Ridley Scott. But if he can’t even be bothered to try, I think we’re better off without him. I hope attitudes like his don’t keep directors from trying to create smart superhero films.